January 18, 2005
Sex education is optional for Washington's public schools. However, HIV/AIDS education is required beginning in fifth grade.
"We think districts will be pleased to have a set of best practices for fine-tuning their programs," said David Brine at the Washington State School Directors Association. "They can take this as a foundation and work with their communities to craft the best approach for the culture of their district."
The guidelines cite research by Douglas Kirby of California-based Education, Training, Research Associates that found comprehensive sex education -- including information about sexuality, STDs, prevention of unwanted pregnancy, and a "clear message about abstinence" -- was most effective. The guidelines call for age-appropriate information, including development of good communication skills and encouragement of healthy and meaningful relationships.